Common Purpose, Different Paths: Stories of IEEE Standards Developers


From Wi-Fi to electric vehicles (EVs), and medical devices to smart grid, IEEE has nearly 1,200 active standards and 1,000 standards under development. Behind IEEE’s leadership in standards development and related collaboration around the world are the volunteers who share a common commitment to fostering technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. 

Coming from different backgrounds, motivations, and technology areas and playing various roles in their work through the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA), the volunteers form working groups to create standards and explore emerging technologies that transform the way we live, work, and communicate.  

In this article, four volunteers shared how participating in the IEEE SA working groups raises the world’s standards to make technology better, safer, and more sustainable.

‘An Aspiration to Help’

Over decades, Dr. Cj Rieser has watched the power of IEEE connectivity standards such as the IEEE 802.11™ family for Wi-Fi® connectivity and other internet standards “unfold around the world.” Today, she chairs the IEEE P2795™ Shared Health Analytics in Remote Environments (SHARE) Working Group, which is defining requirements for sharing access to sensitive information for analysis without moving that data beyond firewall protection and to a centralized location. 

Cj said her interest in IEEE standards work “stemmed from an aspiration to help build smart connected communities that help grow care and learning networks benefitting all people—especially those in vulnerable populations.” 

Cj now leads the working group through the standards development process in various ways, such as serving as point of contact for questions or comments, planning meetings, organizing work and working closely with the other IEEE P2795 officers. For example, the working group recently formed sub-working groups focused on shared analytics data models, quality of metrics and measures, analytic computation models, and trusted analytic exchange.

“The healthcare field has some global examples of how emerging medical technologies can transcend boundaries for the overall good, yet health disparities and bias persist, including in digital health environments. The IEEE P2795 shared analytics standard will hopefully one day help transform digital health—especially around future medical cyber systems that must be resilient, privacy preserving, and inclusive of the care and learning needs of all people.”

‘A Rare Privilege and a Real Pleasure’

John Biggs’s introduction to the IEEE P1801™ Draft Standard for Design and Verification of Low Power, Energy Aware Electronic Systems came when he was working with the standard in the electronic design automation (EDA) industry. He joined the IEEE UPF Standard for Design and Verification of Low Power Integrated Circuits Working Group in 2007. 

“It was more as an observer,” he said. “But after a while it became clear that I was able to make some valuable contributions. It was very rewarding to see my ideas gain the support of the working group and then finally wind up in the standard.”

IEEE 1801 is intended to enhance and improve the energy efficiency of devices. “In general, standards are vital for rapid product development and adoption, as they provide a way for clear communication and understanding that leads to better interoperability and compatibility,” John said. “Specifically, our standard supports the industry by helping enable the rapid, low-power, energy-efficient implementation of complex systems on a chip that are found at the heart of many electronic products.”

John has gradually taken on more and more responsibility within the working group—becoming vice chair in 2009 and chair in 2011.

“What I particularly enjoy about the standards-development work is the opportunity it provides to get to know so many highly skilled, knowledgeable people from such a broad cross section of our industry. It is a rare privilege and a real pleasure to work so closely, at a technical level, with such talented people from other organizations. It just wouldn’t be possible without the environment provided by IEEE.”

‘Guidance for the Next Generation of Engineers’

For Timothy J. Coyle, involvement in standards development started with an invitation from a colleague to participate in a panel discussion at an IEEE conference.

“I was impressed with the knowledge of the members I met there, and I enjoyed their company. That led to my participation on a number of task groups within the IEEE Reliability and Emergency and Standby Power working groups, including  the Recommended Practice for Design and Operational Considerations for Improving the Reliability of Emergency and Stand-By Power Systems Task Group.”

He serves as task-group leader for IEEE 3005.4™ and IEEE 3006.2™—work which has included chairing task-group meetings, contributing content to the standards, coordinating and editing other members’ contributions, and shepherding standard drafts through the ballot process to final publication. The two standards have been converted from the popular IEEE Color Books, which have provided power engineers with best practices and workable solutions for decades. 

One of those engineers, in fact, was Tim.

“Those books have been an invaluable resource to myself and other engineers. I purchased a complete set of them with my own funds in my first job out of college and still have those copies on my bookshelf,” he said. “I believe that with these updates to reflect current technology and industry practice, IEEE 3005.4, IEEE 3006.2 and the rest of the new dot standard series can provide the same valuable resource for the next generation of industrial and commercial power systems engineers.”

‘Effort Well Rewarded’

Nirmala Shenoy’s entrée to standards development was through academia.

“Our research project was the outcome of an applied research in which we were trying to address networking and communication problems using novel rather than traditional approaches,” the Rochester Institute of Technology professor said. “The results were very impressive, so our next effort was to see the protocol we had developed to be deployed in industry. Getting it standardized was an effort to inform the industry that the protocol was deployment-ready.”

That led to Nirmala’s chairing development of IEEE 1910.1™, IEEE Standard for Meshed Tree Bridging with Loop-Free Forwarding. Her efforts have included working on protocol specifications by implementing them in test beds, coordinating working-group meetings, working with the project’s IEEE sponsoring group and IEEE SA program manager, and helping find funding for students to work on the specifications and attain results.

“Projects like ours that are based on novel research ideas can make significant contributions to the networking industry, where well-known, proven but maybe outdated technologies and protocols sometimes are being combined together to solve escalating problems. Simple protocols based on novel ideas can be developed to provide a more efficient and green solution to our networking challenges”.

“I hope to see our project making such a contribution. If it is accepted and adopted by industries, I would consider the research and standardization effort well rewarded. It would be a personal satisfaction.”

Ready to Make Your Mark with IEEE SA?

How can IEEE SA help you achieve your goals in advancing technology for the benefit of humanity? Over the years, IEEE SA has grown beyond standards development to encompass a full technology development lifecycle, from pre-standardization to market adoption and use, with a wide range of activities empowering the world’s innovators to shape and improve technology that are open to any individual or organization around the world. Learn more about what IEEE working groups are and get involved.

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